A QUARTER of shops sell knives to underage children with Scotland being among the worst, research suggests.

Figures from retail age checking company Serve Legal showed that shop workers failed to check the age of mystery shoppers buying a knife in 26 per cent of 2,357 test sales in 2017.

Among shops classed as homeware or DIY stores, where 672 tests were carried out, 41 per cent sold the blades to mystery shoppers without checking identification.

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This also happened in a fifth of supermarkets where 1,685 test purchases were carried out.

Regionally, the poorest rates were in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which both saw retailers failing 41 per cent of tests. London had the lowest proportion with 18 per cent of tests failed.

The figures were released amid concerns about a rise in gun and knife crime. The latest data published by the Office for National Statistics showed 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument were recorded in 2017, a 22 per cent increase compared with the previous year, and the highest number registered since comparable records started in 2010.

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Firearms-related offences were also up, by 11 per cent, to 6,604 recorded crimes.